Dupre: Symphonic-Passion, Op. 23; Cortege et litanie, Op. 19/2

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COMPOSERS: Dupre
LABELS: Koch Schwann Aulos
WORKS: Symphonic-Passion, Op. 23; Cortege et litanie, Op. 19/2
PERFORMER: Ludger Mai (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 3-1821-2 ADD
Marcel Dupre (1886-1971), pupil of Widor, teacher of Messiaen, was organist of St Sulpice, Paris, for nearly 37 years. He was renowned for the brilliance of his extemporisations and for the phenomenal memory which enabled him to write them down later, his tour deforce being the 25-minute Symphonie-Passion which he improvised on the organ in Wanamaker’s store, New York, in 1921, and which features on Mai’s disc. His style ranges from pianistic bravura of Lisztian cast to an inward mysticism suggestive of Tournemire.

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Fishell’s disc is the fourth volume of Naxos’s ongoing comprehensive survey of Dupre’s organ music. She lacks Mai’s powerful drive at moments of passion, and her tempi are slightly down on Dupre’s metronome markings, which Mai observes meticulously. But she’s superb in the Op. 7 Preludes and Fugues – the pedal phrasing and staccato of the B major Prelude, the serene F minor Fugue (though why does she start the final ritardando so soon?), the fluttering opening and three-note pedal chords of the G minor Prelude – and her registration is unfailingly imaginative. Mai is the punchier, Fishell the more relaxed. Both are worth hearing.

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The recordings were made in large churches, with the inevitable loss of some detail, but the atmosphere is right. Wadham Sutton